31 March 2010

Seeing Old Friends and Tying Up Loose Ends

Every year, Christmas feels a little less like Christmas.  (Stay with me here, I promise I have a point.)  There are presents under the tree and non-stop carols on Y94 FM just like usual, but somehow it feels like just another snowfall, just another day, just another event to plan and think about.  Not that it bothers me - I love taking the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate how blessed our lives are - it's just that December 25th used to be a date that I looked forward to beyond all others.  I lived for those advent calendars with chocolate behind the windows and the red and green paper chains we made in school.  And when I would think "Only eleven days to Christmas," my breath would catch and my heart would race.  I don't know when I lost that enthusiasm.  Honestly, when's the last time you were so excited for something that you couldn't sleep?

Well, here I am, eleven days to my Peace Corps service, and I have finally found my missing anticipation!  Don't get me wrong, eleven days is not a very long time to have to wait, but I just wish it was here now.  Also, it is extremely relieving to know that I am not so jaded that I can't feel excitement anymore.

On the other hand, I have a hell of a lot to do in those eleven days, but I'll just give you the highlights.  This weekend is going to be full of seeing old friends, and I'm really excited about it.  Thursday morning I'm driving to Buffalo to see my best friend from high school, Sarah.  Then hopefully that night my friend Rusty from SHU is going to come visit for the night.  Also, my really good friend Meghan is going to be home this weekend for Easter.  On top of all this, my brother Adam is coming home tomorrow and staying through the weekend!  He puts in sooo many hours at his job, I'm ecstatic that he can spend so much time at home before I leave.  Despite how excited I am to leave, I would never want to go without saying goodbye to those who mean the most to me.

It's also very important to me that I don't leave with unfinished business.  For the past week or so I've kinda been in despair thinking that I would be leaving for two years without all the relationships in my life settled, one way or another.  I think it's human nature (and if not, then it's most definitely my nature) to need to be on good terms with everyone before being able to move on.  Maybe people who have made appearances in my life don't require this same peace of mind, but I sure do, and happily I think my loose ends are finally all tied up, and I'm feeling really good about life.

"Some people should be around your entire life, and some should just make an appearance."  - Greek

29 March 2010


I just realized I only have twelve days left to get skinny.  Intense gym sessions commence.......NOW!

Bon Voyage Brunch

Today my parents threw a lovely Bon Voyage Brunch for me, and we invited our closest friends (who we have come to think of as family) in Oswego.  It was really nice - very relaxed with yummy food, great conversation, and lots of laughs.

Okay, first and foremost (duh)... FOOD:

and of course, desserts!

Fruit pizza is the most delicious food to ever touch my lips.

We had so much food we didn't even touch the cake!  It was still pretty though.  I loved my dad's personal touch of the giraffe.

Next (and definitely most importantly), our friends, who I love oh-so-much:

My dad's co-workers and our oldest Oswego friends

My girls, there for me through it all

These people have made Oswego a great place for me to live!

For anyone who is not aware, I have a weird obsession with André, so it was a must-have for my farewell fiesta.

My dad actually toasted me, and it was really sweet.

Typical, I sat there really awkwardly.

And just for fun, here are some pictures of decorations - we went with a safari theme, obvs.

See the zebra print ribbon around the cups?  Yeah, I did that myself... and cursed Martha Stewart the whole time for making it look so easy.

These little animals that my dad made were SO CUTE!

Everyone looked at my scrapbooks and signed a page for me to look at when I'm homesick.

I love fresh cut flowers!

Whew, that was a lot of pictures.  It was such a fun afternoon.  Once everyone had left though... I felt really, really lonely.  Saying goodbye is not an easy task.

L'absence diminue les mediocres passions et augmente les grandes, comme le vent eteint les bougies et allume le feu.  -Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

["Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire."]

To everyone who has made Oswego my home: you are my great passions!  :)

27 March 2010

A Year of Physicians and Paperwork

For what it's worth, I thought I would post my application timeline.  So if you're considering applying, know up-front that it can be a long process (mine ended up being a full year).

April 2009: Submitted my online application.
May 2009: Had interview in New York and was nominated.
June - August 2009: Studied in Morocco and backpacked Europe, so couldn't complete any of my medical or dental forms.
August - September 2009: Went to see all of my doctors and dentist, got all of my forms filled out, and (finally) submitted all medical forms.
October 2009: Received medical deferral (AKA the worst three months of my life).
November 2009: Appealed my deferral, was told to fill out more paperwork.  Filled out said paperwork.
December 2009: Was told to get even more paperwork filled out.  Note: it contained the exact same information.
January 2010: Medical deferral was lifted!!!  Celebrated in Cleveland with my brother, Adam.  Then was told my iron levels were too low - began intense iron-rich diet regimen.
February 2010: Got more blood taken.  Had perfect iron levels, duh.  Received medical clearance!
March 2010: Received my invitation to serve in Botswana :)
April 2010: When I will leaveeee! 2 weeks babayyyy!

So, as you can see, I spent a LOT of time applying and not so much time packing and preparing.  The process has taken such a long time that I'm finding it hard to believe that I truly am leaving in two weeks.  In fact, there is a small part of me that thinks at any minute Peace Corps will call and say, "We reviewed your file one last time and we actually don't want you.  Sorry."  Or worse - "We saw your pictures on facebook.  Don't even think about showing up."  I know that this is highly improbable (although, not impossible), but until I'm sitting on that plane to Botswana, I am still just an unemployed college kid.  But anyway, I can't really complain, because there is no other adventure I would rather be leaving for. :)

This weekend my parents are throwing me a Bon Voyage Brunch.  It should be precious.  I will be drinking Andre.  Oh cheap champagne, how I will miss you.

"Working hard is important, but there is something that matters even more - believing in yourself."  -Harry Potter

(^A quote I wish I had remembered while I was crying over my deferral, haha.)

23 March 2010

My Completely Irreplaceable Friends

This past week I spent time in New Jersey, saying goodbye to my friends from Seton Hall.  It ended up being one of the best weeks of my life.  Not because anything unbelievably crazy or exciting happened (although, okay, getting on the Dr. Oz Show and having a surprise party thrown for me are both pretty amazing), but more because of the time I got to spend with these inspiring people I am lucky enough to call my friends.  From my Diplo geeks, to my Alpha Phi girls, to all of the hilarious, loving people I have met along the way, each and every one of you have influenced who I am today.

I don't know how many of you will ever read this, but if you do, I want you to know: you are completely, 100%, absolutely irreplaceable.  I can never thank you enough for showing me such love and acceptance.  You all have taught me what friendship is, and that is a gift I can never repay.  It broke my heart to say goodbye on Sunday, and I can't even comprehend the next two years without you.  You guys are the shitttt, mad love <3

So now the gravity of the trip I am about to embark upon is starting to hit me.  These people have been my support system for the past four years.  Although I did travel for three months this summer without having phone contact with them, I always knew at the end of the day I could have immediate access to email and Facebook.  The thought of having that security taken away is terrifying.  How many times in the past three months of living at home have I called Jess to ask for advice?  Or how about the numerous times Courtney has dropped everything to come give me a much-needed hug?  And there is no way I could even begin to recall all the laughs I have had every day at Seton Hall.  Once I start to add up the support from each individual person in my life, the idea of giving that up "cold turkey" becomes absolutely intimidating.  I know there will be many, many challenges over the next two years, but right now, leaving my friends seems to be the biggest one.

I would like to end my post with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay Self-Reliance:

"These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God today.  There is no time to them.  There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence."

In all of our lives, we should realize that we are simply ourselves, and we are perfect in just being ourselves. My friends have certainly taught me that.  :)